Why dozens of female athletes speak out on the right to abortion

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Life as she knows it, the life she loves, is the product of that decision, she told me. “It’s not uncommon,” she said, adding that many athletes have similar stories.

In May, the Supreme Court announced it would hear Mississippi’s appeal against a lower court ruling that blocked state law banning abortion after 15 weeks. In the Roe decision, the Supreme Court legalized abortion until the point of fetal viability, which is approximately 25 weeks. Roe recognized that deciding whether or not to continue with a pregnancy, which impacts a woman’s well-being and future, is a matter of individual choice.

Abortion rights activists believe that if judges rule in favor of the Mississippi ban, the Roe decision will be severely hampered. It is not known how many athletic women oppose the right to abortion, but it is certain: the threat to Roe has infuriated and mobilized female athletes who want him protected. The 73-page brief, one of dozens of friends of the briefs filed in the case, is intended as a demonstration of support for the right to choose. Submitted last week by high power law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, the brief is another sign of the rapid growth in athlete empowerment. Energized to speak out on issues far beyond their sports, they are networking like never before.

Perham, for example, discovered the case just two weeks ago from Casey Legler, an outspoken former Olympic swimmer who is now a writer and restaurateur in New York City.

“It was like this wild root system that we didn’t even know was there,” Legler said. “These are swimmers calling soccer players calling their agent calling the basketball player whose girlfriend is on the diving team who remembers the kid playing hockey.”

“We all know what’s at stake,” she added.

On December 1, the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the Mississippi case, with a decision possible this summer.

No matter what happens – and with a conservative majority on the court, but also a few swing judges, there is concern on both sides as to how this might be pronounced – more than 500 female athletes have spoken clearly.


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